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Your Actual Self And Issues Of Authenticity

Authenticity is the sense of living to be the truest version of yourself. Rather than sticking to expectations and conventions of others, you want to push against what others expect from you in order to do what you need to do to live authentically. 

While most folks likely describe authenticity as living according to their own sets of values and self-expectations, research shows that most people feel their most authentic when they’re conforming to a set of socially approved conventions. For example, some of these conventions include extroversion, agreeability, social consciousness, and emotional stability.

What happens when your actual self’s qualities clash with societal expectations?

This is an interesting way to think about the paradox described by Scientific American. For example, if you are invited to a social event but you are an introverted person, you may be uncomfortable.  Instead of going around the event and meeting people you prefer to keep to yourself.  So spend quality time with a few people, then you are at the event but you are living into the qualities of your actual self.

Authenticity can take on a number of different definitions and variations–to make this even more complicated, each person identifies authentic qualities in themselves differently! Understanding how to identify the different ways authenticity can take form in your life is the key to addressing issues of authenticity with your true self. 

Why does our actual self often not line up with the different directions authenticity takes?

  1. Authenticity, when approached from the direction of being seen as agreeable, extroverted, etc. by society, often encourages us to lead with our actual self.

Being your actual self is important in a number of life’s situations. For example, the first time you meet your partner’s family, a job interview, or a first date are all times when you want to put your best foot forward and make a strong first impression. 

But there are times when you feel like you need to adapt to societal expectations where you cannot be your full actual self.  The more that you can adapt and place pieces of your values and desires into your actions the happier you will be and the more authentic you will become.   

  1. Authenticity by your actual self doesn’t always line up with authenticity described by meeting society’s expectations. 

Sometimes living authentically aligns with generally accepted qualities set forth by society, and sometimes living authentically aligns with your actual self. Occasionally, your actual self’s qualities and society’s expectations align with each other–often, they do not. Understanding this strange chess board of intermingling qualities is key to understanding why your true self doesn’t always line up with what’s considered “authentic.” 

Understanding this strange cross section of your true self versus societal expectations is important. Rather than feeling like you’re not being authentic to yourself, consider where your current situation lies on this “game board.” 

Are you stuck in a situation where society’s expectations don’t line up with your actual self? Are your actual self and society’s expectations aligned in the current situation?

Understanding that these instances can ebb and flow is an important part of engaging with your actual self and what authenticity really means for you. 

The Bottom Line

There are many issues concerning your actual self and the meaning of authenticity. Depending on various life situations, authenticity and how it relates to your actual self can feel either in agreement or conflicting. 

Understanding how your actual self defines authenticity and how society defines authenticity can help you understand the different issues you might face when identifying your actual self. 

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